Tops Day Nurseries have made the change from using plastic milk bottles to glass bottles in a bid to protect the environment.
After checking out the overflowing recycling bin at one of our nurseries Cheryl Hadland, Managing Director of Tops Day Nurseries, couldn’t help but notice the very large pile of plastic milk bottles. It is clearly costing the nurseries a lot to have all those milk bottles disposed of every week. Cheryl calculated that the nurseries were getting through a quarter of a million 2 litre plastic milk bottles every year – but not anymore!
Tops Day Nurseries accommodates approximately 3000 children per day and around 250,000 2l bottles of milk per year, so one change in one group of nurseries can have an impact on plastic waste.
Tops Day Nurseries has made the move from plastic bottles to glass bottles so that all the glass bottles can go back to the dairies to be cleaned and re-filled. Broken ones are also returned so they can be heated and re-made into more glass bottles as glass is truly recyclable. Unlike plastic, which is currently only down-cycled, usually mixing it with virgin plastic to ever poorer quality plastic until it is only fit to burn for energy, with the ash having a potential use for road building.
Milk bottles are generally made from HDPE plastic, and very little recycled HDPE plastic is included with new milk bottles (about 10% although the target by 2015 was 30%) because the recycled material currently has a green hue to it – which consumers don’t like. Along with the plastic are the labels, adhesive used, ink, seals, closure liners, closures, barrier coatings and layers!
Of course, many milk bottles don’t get as far as the waste recycling – probably as few as 30%. Most go to general waste landfill and have even been exported abroad, or have been discarded by people ending up on roads, pavements and washing into rivers and the sea. Once in the water it is gradually battered into little bits where it can be eaten by and/or injure birds, fish and mammals or ground small enough to become a microplastic and be eaten by plankton and plankton feeders until it works back up the food chain to apex feeders such as dolphins, whales and humans. The chemical additives in plastics are known to cause hormone/fertility problems in humans and some are even carcinogenic – so it’s not desirable to eat it. Many whales have beached themselves to die a painful death and are found to have a huge amount of plastic in their stomachs. The plastic that is reclaimed and can’t be made into more milk bottles can be used to create children’s toys and flower pots and fencing, for example.
By returning glass bottles we are reducing the amount of new bottles that need to be made, allowing them to be reused many times. Then once they are recycled they can be re-manufactured without any decrease in quality. The choice is clear to me, glass milk bottles are the best choice for the environment.